A quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
NO 21, ATL 16
Close game but the Saints always led. Each team scored just one touchdown after the 14-6 halftime score. Taysom Hill passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns – the first of his career. He also ran for 83 yards on 14 rushes. Michael Thomas (9-105) still had a good fantasy showing though all passes were short. Tre’Quan Smith (3-42, TD) and Jared Cook (3-28, TD) split the receiving touchdowns. The best part of the game was Alvin Kamara who was decimated in fantasy terms with the change in quarterbacks. He still only caught two passes for nine yards, but he ran 15 times for 88 yards and a touchdown. There were a lot of short passes, but only three targeted Kamara.
The Falcons had almost no rushing offense, and Matt Ryan passed for 273 yards but only one score. Calvin Ridley (5-108) and Julio Jones (6-94) dominated the passes while Russell Gage (4-51, TD) ended up with the touchdown. Todd Gurley was clearly not 100% when he ran for only 16 yards on eight carries. The 10-2 Saints head to Philadelphia this week while the 4-8 Falcons travel to meet the Chargers.
DET 34, CHI 30
This is not a resume builder for the Bears head coach Matt Nagy, and maybe he should start thinking about his next job after six straight losses. David Montgomery ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and added 39 yards on four catches. But Mitchell Trubisky only passed for 267 yards and one score. Allen Robinson (6-75) and Anthony Miller (5-56) were their top receivers, and at least the rookie Cole Kmet (5-37, TD) caught the lone touchdown pass. The Bears have gone from leading their division to now sharing the cellar with the Lions.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 57 yards and two scores on just 16 carries while Matt Stafford threw for 402 yards and three scores on the Bears defense in Chicago. Marvin Jones (8-116, TD) and T.J. Hockenson (7-84) were the lead receivers and Quintez Cephus (2-63, TD) made the most of his increased playing time. The Lions shouldn’t have been this good and the Bears shouldn’t have been that bad. The 5-7 Lions host the Packers this week while the Bears host the Texans and keep checking to see if Nagy is collecting empty boxes.
IND 26, HOU 20
These divisional rivals played it close for the entire game and the only score in the second half was a safety by Deshaun Watson in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Taylor ran for 91 yards on 13 rushes and added three catches for 44 yards and one score. Nyheim Hines (6-10, TD) ran for one score and caught three passes for 22 yards. T.Y. Hilton is finally connecting with Philip Rivers and ended with a team-high eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Rivers used ten different receivers and had a QB rating of 119.3 but was playing the Texans.
Deshaun Watson passed for 341 yards but no touchdowns. He ran for 38 yards and one score while David Johnson gained 44 yards and a touchdown on his ten rushes. Keke Coutee (8-141) was the surprise top receiver and previous free agent Chad Hansen (5-101) more than doubled the stats from his three-year career. Brandon Cooks (5-65) left for a time to be checked for a concussion. The win sends the 8-4 Colts to Vegas this week while the 4-8 Texans head to Chicago.
CIN 7, MIA 19
The Bengals started the scoring with a touchdown to Tyler Boyd (1-72, TD) before he was later ejected for throwing a punch. Brandon Allen only passed for 153 yards and one score before leaving the game with a chest injury. Tee Higgins (5-56) was the other top receiver and Giovani Bernard gained 30 yards on 12 runs. Good thing Boyd caught the long touchdown or this would have been a shutout.
Tua Tagovailoa was able to play and passed for 296 yards and one score to Mike Gesicki (9-88, TD), but Devante Parker (4-35) suffers with Ryan Fitzpatrick on the sideline. Myles Gaskins was activated from injured reserve and ran for 90 yards on 21 rushes and caught two passes for 51 yards thanks to a 35-yard catch and run. The Dolphins beat the woeful Bengals but the drop in offensive spark is notable when the rookie is under center. This was an easy opponent at home, but the Fins only posted one touchdown. The 2-9-1 Bengals host the Cowboys this week while the 8-4 Dolphins play in Tampa Bay.
JAC 24, MIN 27
This was much closer than it should have been. The Jaguars tied the score 24-24 with a minute left to send it into overtime. The Vikings drove the field and kicked the game-winning field goal from the Jaguars’ 5-yard line.
Mike Glennon passed for 280 yards and one score while doing a great job spreading the ball around which meant that there were no decent fantasy plays. Collin Johnson (4-66) was their top receiver and no one else gained more than 45 yards including DJ Chark (2-41). Laviska Shenault (3-38, TD) scored thanks to a pass that caromed off a defenders’ helmet. James Robinson ran for 78 yards and a touchdown and added 30 yards on six catches.
Kirk Cousins passed for 305 yards and three touchdowns with both Justin Jefferson (9-121, TD) and Adam Thielen (8-75, TD) turning in high production. Dalvin Cook gained 120 yards on 32 rushes and caught six passes for 59 yards. No other players gained more than 18 yards. At least the three main fantasy starters all shined, even if the Vikings almost let this one get away from them. The 1-11 Jaguars host the Titans this week while the 6-6 Vikings head to Tampa Bay.
LV 31, NYJ 28
The collective “WHEW” from Las Vegas probably changed their weather pattern. This was a Game-o-the-Week contender with the Raiders almost becoming the 2020 version of “it” in this trap game that oh-so nearly happened. The Raiders led until five minutes left after the Jets scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. It looked like it was over for the Raiders when they failed to convert a fourth-and-three at the NYJ-9 yard line with 1:42 left. But – these are the Jets. They went four-and-out and punted. With 35 seconds left at the LV-39 yard line, Carr was blitzed and he hit the single-covered Henry Ruggs for a 46-yard touchdown with four seconds left to play.
Derek Carr ended with 381 yards and three touchdowns with Darren Waller (13-200, 2 TD) turning in a career-best day. Henry Ruggs (3-84, TD) was the only other receiver with more than 50 yards or a score. Devontae Booker (16-50) replaced Josh Jacobs but this game was mostly about Waller, with a final touchdown throw to Ruggs.
Sam Darnold passed for 186 yards and two scores plus ran in a touchdown. Jamison Crowder showed up again with five catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns but no other receiver topped 40 yards. Ty Johnson (22-104, TD) replaced the injured Frank Gore and had a career-day in the process. Josh Adams (8-74) also surprised. In the end, so close, yet so far. The 7-5 Raiders host the Colts this weekend while the 0-12 Jets head to Seattle in their march on infamy.
LA 38, ARI 28
This was a Game-o-the-Week contender with 66 combined points. Jared Goff passed for 351 yards and one score to Tyler Higbee (4-24, TD) while the top receivers were Robert Woods (10-85) and Cooper Kupp (8-73). Cam Akers (21-72, TD) was allowed an actual full-time workload and added a 22-yard catch. Darrell Henderson (3-49, TD) ran in a 38-yard score in the fourth quarter to put it out of reach.
Kyler Murray threw for 173 yards and three touchdowns between Dan Arnold (2-61, 2 TD) and DeAndre Hopkins (8-52, TD) but no other receivers gained more than 27 yards. Kenyan Drake ran for 49 yards on ten carries and scored once. Murray was held to only 15 yards as a rusher. The Rams won this because they were able to cover the wide receivers and that throws everything off for the Cardinals. Murray shifted to throwing two scores to his tight end but the offense sputtered against the Rams. That leaves the 6-6 Cardinals heading to play the Giants this week while the 8-4 Rams host the Patriots.
NYG 17, SEA 12
Welcome to “Any Given Sunday.” Did someone forget to practice this week? Thought maybe a homefield mail-in effort was enough? The Seahawks fall back into a tie with the Rams for the NFC West and can forget any chance of a first-round bye.
Wayne Gallman ran for 135 yards on 16 carries thanks in part to a 60-yard run. Alfred Morris gained 39 yards and a touchdown on eight carries by trotting in while Gallman was tired from his long run. Morris scored a second touchdown in his six-yard catch as well. Colt McCoy won his first start ever, and it only needed 105 yards and one score. No Giants’ receiver gained more than 32 yards.
Russell Wilson’s day off saw him limited to 263 yards and one score to Chris Carson (3-45), while DK Metcalf (5-80) and Tyler Lockett (6-63) fell below expectations. Carson ran for 65 yards on 13 rushes while Wilson gained 45 yards on his seven rushes. When Colt McCoy records his first career win as a visitor against a division leader, it is safe to define this as a “mind-warping trap game.” The 5-7 Giants won their last four games – and not just NFC East matchups – and host the Cardinals while the 8-4 Seahawks host the Jets with a chance to double down on unimaginable trap games.
PHI 16 , GB 30
The only notable part of this loss by the Eagles was swapping over to Jalen Hurts (5-12-109, TD) in the middle of the game and seeing him look better than Carson Wentz (6-15-79). Dallas Goedert (5-66) and Greg Ward (3-57, TD) were the best receivers and Zach Ertz (2-31) returned after missing five games. Miles Sanders (10-31) still doesn’t look back to form. The only reason that this game looks remotely competitive was because the Eagles scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, including a punt return.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 295 yards and three scores with Davante Adams (10-121, 2 TD) predictably dominating the game. Alan Lazard (3-50) and Robert Tonyan (4-39, TD) were the next best receivers but Adams alone was enough to win the game. Aaron Jones ran for 130 yards that included a 77-yard touchdown run at the end of the game. The only interesting part of this entire game was that the Eagles allowed Hurts to do more than throw the final pass in a loss. The 3-8-1 Eagles host the Saints on Sunday while the 9-3 Packers head to Detroit.
NE 45, LAC 0
The Chargers were favored. It all went bad from the start and never got any better. The Patriots only passed for 130 yards and two scores with no receiver gaining more than 38 yards. The only receiver with more than two catches was James White (3-1). Damien Harris (16-80) and Sony Michel (10-35) shared the backfield while Cam Newton gained 48 yards and two touchdowns in his 14 runs. The Pats added scores via a 70-yard punt return and the return of a blocked field goal. The Chargers had a trash game of epic proportions.
Justin Hebert only threw for 209 yards and two interceptions. Keenan Allen (5-48) and Mike Williams (4-43) consumed 20 targets with minimal production. Austin Ekeler only ran for 36 yards on eight rushes and caught only four passes for 32 yards. This was a beat down from the first series that just never got any better. The Pats already led 28-0 at halftime. The 3-9 Chargers host the Falcons this week while the 5-6 Patriots travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams.
DEN 16, KC 22
Strange how the Chiefs decimate everyone unless they face a team in their own division, then they squeak past. Drew Lock passed for 151 yards and two scores with two interceptions at the Chiefs. Noah Fant (4-57) and Tim Patrick (4-44, 2 TD) did most of the damage in the passing game. Melvin Gordon ran for 131 yards on 15 carries with a 65-yard gain thrown in as a stat booster. Phillip Lindsay also rushed 14 times but only gained 26 yards. The game wasn’t close thanks to the offensive success of the Broncos. It was because the Chiefs settled for field goals or failed on fourth-down attempts.
Patrick Mahomes threw for 318 yards and just one touchdown to Travis Kelce (8-136, TD). Tyreek Hill (6-58) was the only other receiver with more than 39 yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was active yet unused, but Le’Veon Bell only gained 40 yards on 11 rushes and added two receptions for 15 yards. The Chiefs mostly played down to the Broncos as was common throughout the league this week. The 4-8 Broncos play in Carolina this week while the 11-1 Chiefs head to Miami.
CLE 41, TEN 35
Speaking of surprises…
The Browns previously unknown passing attack not only led 38-7 at halftime, but Baker Mayfield had already thrown for 290 yards and four touchdowns. The Browns would only kick one field goal in the second half while they tried to run the clock out before the Titans could catch up. Both teams spewed fantasy points only it was all Browns in the first half and all Titans in the second half.
Mayfield ended with 334 yards and four touchdowns, Rashard Higgins (6-95, TD), Donovan Peoples-Jones (2-92, TD), and Jarvis Landry (8-62) did most of the damage. Nick Chubb ran for 80 yards and one score on 18 carries and added a 26-yard catch. Kareem Hunt gained 33 yards on 14 rushes and added three catches for 24 yards. The best fantasy players were Higgins and Peoples-Jones who likely no one started.
Derrick Henry only ran for 60 yards on 15 carries since the Titans never had the luxury of just rushing the ball. Ryan Tannehill ended with 389 yards and three touchdowns. Corey Davis (11-182, TD) had a career day while A.J. Brown was held to 87 yards on four catches. Tannehill did a great job mixing his receivers but it was too little, too late after trailing by 31 points at the start of the second half. The 9-3 Browns host the Ravens this week in a big NFC North matchup while the 8-4 Titans play in Jacksonville,